The Churchill VII (A22F) was a heavier version of the Churchill tank, with thicker armour, a redesigned turret and carrying the British 75mm gun.
In May 1943 the decision was made to order another 1,000 Churchills and to continue production in 1944. The 1944 production would be of an improved model, the Heavy Churchill or A22F (redesignated as the A42 in 1945).
The A22F used welded construction throughout the hull. The armour was made thicker, with up to 152mm at the front (more than on the famous Panzer VI Tiger). Earlier Churchills had used a composite construction, with the armour fitted on top of a mild steel framework. On the A22F the armour plate also served as the structure of the tank.
The A22F also had new side doors, with rounded corners to eliminate weak spots and a slightly conical shape to prevent them from being blown into the interior of the tank by direct hits.
A new turret was produced for the A22F. One piece cast turrets were strong, but it was also difficult to have thick sides but a thin roof, wasting weight. On the A22F the turret had a single cast piece for the four sides, with a thinner roof with cupola welded on top.
The A22F also received an improved gearbox and heavier suspension.
The A22F entered production as the Churchill Mk VII and Churchill Mk VIII. The Mk VII was armed with the British 75mm gun, a bored out version of the 6-pounder that could take American 75 ammunition. The Mk VIII carried a 95mm howitzer.
Around 1,600 Mk VIIs and Mk VIIIs were built, with the majority being Mk VIIs. Rather frustratingly the exact split isn't known. Some sources guess at 1,400 Mk VIIs and 200 Mk VIIIs.
All A22Fs were built so that they could easily be converted into Churchill Crocodile flame thrower tanks.
Churchill Mk VII, A22F, Infantry Tank Mk IV
Production: up to 1,600
Hull Length: 24ft 5in
Hull Width: 9ft
Height: 11ft 4in
Crew: 5 (commander, gunner, loader, driver, co-driver/ hull gunner)
Max Road Speed: 12.5mph
Max Cross-county Speed: 8mph
Engine: 350hp Bedford twin-six
Road Range: 90 miles radius
Armament: 75mm gun and 7.92mm Besa machine gun in turret, 7.92mm Besa machine gun in hull front